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Topics - Mojo

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The Business Of Upholstery / Well That Was Fun.... NOT....
« on: September 28, 2019, 12:27:40 PM »
I don't care if I move a shop again for a long time. What a royal pain in the ass. We were so socked in with RV & commercial awning orders not to mention was booked solid on our RV parts & service side. It was a real dance with the schedule but we got-er-dun.

The only thing that saved us was we didn't get any dealer orders which are 24 hour turn arounds. The staff did an awesome job and we never missed a beat. Our sewing operation and stainless production operation was shut down for only 3 days. Our parts and service divisions stayed up and running despite having to chase down and find inventory.

We are all moved now and running full speed again.


The Business Of Upholstery / 7 rules to guide you
« on: September 17, 2019, 07:49:26 AM »
I just ran across this article and to make things a bit shorter I am removing the commentary and just posting the 7 rules mentioned by Blackstone's Steven Schwarzman. Over the years I have applied many of these to my business ventures and they truly do work.


1) The best executives are made, not born.
They absorb information, study their own experiences, learn from their mistakes, and evolve. The process of launching your business is a continual, never-ending learning experience.

2) It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small, so reach for dreams worthy of your pursuit, with rewards commensurate to your effort.
Every person and organization has limited time – choose where you commit your attention and resources wisely and be ambitious.

3) Success comes down to rare moments of opportunity. Be open, alert, and ready to seize them.
Gather the right people and resources; then commit and don’t look back. If you’re not prepared to apply that kind of unrelenting effort, either the opportunity isn’t as compelling as you think or you are not the right person to pursue it.

4) When evaluating your potential business idea make sure it passes these three tests:
• Is your idea big enough to justify devoting your life to it? Make sure it has the potential to be huge.

• Is your idea unique? When people see what you are offering, they should say to themselves, “My gosh, I need this. I’ve been waiting for this. This really appeals to me.” Without that “aha!” you are wasting your time.

• Is your timing right? The world actually doesn’t like pioneers, so if you are too early, your risk of failure is high. The market you are targeting should be lifting off with enough momentum to help make you successful.

5) No one person, however smart, can solve every problem. But an army of smart people talking openly with one another will.
To that extent, hire 10s whenever you can. They are proactive about sensing problems, designing solutions, and taking a business in new directions. They also attract and hire other 10s. You can always build something around a 10.

6) Make decisions when you are ready, not under pressure.
Others will always push you to make a decision for their own purposes, internal politics, or some other external need. But you can almost always say, “I need a little more time to think about this. I’ll get back to you.” This tactic is very effective at defusing even the most difficult and uncomfortable situations.

7) Never deviate from your sense of right and wrong.
Your integrity must be unquestionable. Always do what you say you will, and never mislead anyone for your own advantage.

The Business Of Upholstery / Moving Along
« on: August 18, 2019, 05:53:47 AM »
We closed on our new building a couple weeks ago and are now going through the new building and adding some things as well as updating others. Thankfully the building is in good shape and built extremely well. It also has great insulation which is a plus down here in the swamp ( Florida ). It does have 2 tired heat pump systems that will need to be replaced down the road but everything else is good.

The worst part is sorting out the electrical so I can add a couple new lines. The building has 120, 240 and 208 with 3 seperate breaker panels. It used to be a printing shop so they must have had equipment that ran on 208. This voltage was popular for grocery stores and such as they ran their lighting and coolers off 208. This voltage has since lost favor and now most commercial buildings are wired for straight 240 and 3 phase 240.

The sewing shop is divided from the office and lobby area. The sewing area will have 2,400 sq ft of space and the remaining 1,600 sq ft will be the office area, kitchen & break room, conference room and design center. The lobby will have retail space for parts, etc. One nice thing is the previous owner when they emptied the building went through and painted the walls and floors. That will save a lot of time.

I did build a new metal fabricating shop inside the sewing area and we now have storage space for parts and supplies along with a fabric storage area. My son-in-law flew down from Richmond, VA and helped me frame, sheetrock and wire the metal fab shop. He then  installed a new security system and we have an 8 camera video monitoring system going in as well. I installed 2 new Sensi thermostats so we can monitor and control our heat pumps from home if we want using our Iphones. The new security system and cameras also are all controlled by our cell phones and we can take a peak around the building using our phones. All of our security systems have battery backup and will work even in the event of a power failure. Technology is amazing these days.

I should be done with the building and we will be moved in about mid-September. I will be glad when the process is done as I am getting too old for this crap. I have 2 shows to do starting in September ( SHreveport and Syracuse, NY ) and will be gone for a month so my time line is tight. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Idea's - Product Solutions - Expansion
« on: June 30, 2019, 11:42:23 AM »
Doyle has posted about a few business ideas for expansion and I thought I would add my 2-cents worth to help those
who are looking for expansion into other areas for bringing in additional revenue.

One of our companies is a manufacturer of obsolete RV parts as well as new products that I design myself as add-ons to RV's. Our other company is an RV awning company. With both companies our growth is based on penetrating new markets, expanding existing markets, identifying new products and improving on existing products. I have a goal to manufacture one new product annually. I will explain how I go about identifying the product.

1.) I look for a product that has a viable place in the market.
2.) I then study the market and identify my competition.
3.) I check patents and trademarks to limit liability.
4.) If the product appears viable and we can expect decent sales and the market can be expanded then
I move on to the next category - Producing the product.

1.) What materials can be used and what is the cost of those materials ?
2.) How can I design and enhance the product to find a niche in that product category ?
3.) What is the total cost for the product which includes materials, labor, handling, admin duties, packaging, etc. ?
4.) How many units of the product can I expect to sell in the first year ?
5.) How much marketing time will it take to launch the product ?
6.) Most importantly what is my margin for each unit sold ?

If you go back and look at our 12 year history you will see that I have developed many products, designed enhancements,
created markets and in some cases designed products to retrofit problem areas on RV's. I look at all the shortcomings of
a particular RV and then try and identify what products could replace problem parts with high quality ones that we manufacture.

I readily admit I know very little about the furniture side of upholstery. I also would never pass myself off as a true upholsterer
as I have 20 % of the skill levels you all have with furniture, cars and marine work. My expertise lies in business and marketing.
I have never sat down and looked at furniture upholstery to see if there are areas of expansion. But I can guess there are opportunities for more revenue in your line of work. Upselling thread, foam and fabric types and other things that have to do with furniture. I also see maybe a little opportunity with you guys who also do woodworking in making matching ottomans. For instance I bring a chair to you to be upholstered. You then try and sell me a matching ottoman custom made by you. Maybe one that is simple or maybe one that includes a hinged top with internal storage. Kicking ideas around that can grow your business with a new product offering is always a good thing.

So get to kicking some ideas around in your heads and see where there is opportunity for additional revenue. Brainstorm with your wives or friends. One of our members here RiCat is excellent at upselling his marine products by simply offering upgrades to thread - Poly to Solarfix. He has great margins with that simple upsell. It is ideas like that that can put a few extra thousand dollars a year into your bank accounts.


The Business Of Upholstery / Buying a Building
« on: June 10, 2019, 07:07:46 AM »
We wrote an offer on a commercial building a couple weeks ago and have been going through the financial process with the bank.
I had no idea what a royal pain in the ass buying a commercial building was.

We had an hour long meeting the other day with the commercial loan director. The records we had to supply was horrendous. Personal
records and then 3 years from each company we own of P & L's ( Profit & Loss ) & year end balance sheets. Then tax records for the last 3 years for ourselves and companies.

Everything is completely different with commercial buildings. I asked about the inspection and he said " If you want one go ahead. The condition of the building you are buying is all on you ". If the deal goes through then we start the headaches with the Government agencies and insurance company. The city has to inspect the building and then give an occupancy permit. The fire department has to inspect the building and give approval. The insurance company sends a risk manager to inspect the building as well.

What was different was that the bank is pushing us to form a 3rd LLC which will own the building. The 2 companies will then lease the building back from the holding company. This setup is used to provide an additional liability barrier in the event of an accident or claim/lawsuit by a third party. There are also some tax benefits as well.

In the end, if the deal goes through then we will have a much larger building that we desperately need for growth. Currently we are tripping on each other in a 1,600 sq ft building. The new place is 4,000 sq ft which will really allow us to work with more room, allow an additional 10 x 24 ft sewing table, a larger table for serger sewing, more parts inventory space and provide us with larger offices.

Should know soon if the deal flies or not. If not then back to the drawing board and looking for another building.


The Business Of Upholstery / Interesting Concept
« on: May 23, 2019, 06:54:37 PM »
I think this is interesting but I also see problems with this business model.

Typically when you need your seat cushions reupholstered you also need the entire furniture piece reupholstered. But lets say you do only need the cushions recovered. How are you going to match the color and grain pattern ? These furniture pieces are exposed to a lot of sun
so they fade. A new cover on a cushion is NOT going to match the rest of it.

Or am I missing something here ? What do ya'll think ? Can it work ?


General Discussion / Ya'll Are Going To Be Shocked
« on: December 30, 2018, 09:04:52 AM »
I actually sat down and sewed yesterday.

We have a golf cart that we use at events to get around the grounds on and the seats looked pretty old and worn.
So I bought some marine vinyl in a carbon fiber pattern and in our company colors and sat down to get this project done.
You guys would have laughed if you were there. I laid the 3 rolls of fabric on the table, looked at the seats, looked at the fabric
and thought to myself " Where the hell do I begin ? ". I had a serious brain fade moment and couldn't remember which direction to go in.

It has been probably 5 years or so since I recovered seating for anything and about 8 years since I did my last big marine job. I nearly forgot how to pattern and arrange the fabric cuts. I am doing the cushions in 3 color's in a vertical pattern and had to lay them all out in differing widths. I sewed them together using a simple fell seam but now am wondering if I want to go back and top stitch for some extra " pop ".

I am going to put some sew foam in the back cushion and pleat it in two sections. I forgot how enjoyable this work is and really enjoyed
being in the shop all alone, Motown music blaring and no phone calls or interruptions. It was actually like taking a tranquilizer.....relaxing and enjoyable.

Will try and post pictures when I am done. Never thought I would get back to sewing after my wife fired me from the awning company.
I was surprised that once I got going how everything I have learned over the years came back and the project just flowed. Maybe senility hasn't set in yet..........but then again..... lol : )


The Business Of Upholstery / Online Sales
« on: December 26, 2018, 10:59:02 AM »
Geeezz. Is there anything you cannot buy online now days ?

I am wondering how much of an impact this will have on auto trimmers like Doyle and Ricat. Car owners are always looking for a cheap way out of a project. Obviously someone with an expensive classic car will go to an expert like Doyle or Rick but there are those who think they can do it on the cheap and order these things. I can see problems with ordering these replacement seat covers. 1.) The headache of removing the old one by a novice car owner. 2.) The installation by the novice car owner. 3.) What do they do with the foam that is broken down or torn ?

Here is the web site:  www.theseatshop.com

There are a lot of products being sold online that are made from templants. The problem with templants is that they do not take into consideration the variances of an older item that may occur with age.

What are ya'lls thoughts ?


General Discussion / Heads up 65Buick
« on: November 14, 2018, 05:35:02 PM »
Seen this ad on facebook and am passing it on for you since you live in CA.

My family has an upholstery business in Temecula, CA. My dad is going to retire soon. We are trying to sell our business and/or the inventory. I have several craigslist ads to show you what we have. Please message me or write in the comments that you're interested and I'll send you our craigslist ads. We are selling sewing machines and much more. Please call us at (951) 303-2255 Monday through Friday 9AM to 5PM pacific time if you have any questions.


The Business Of Upholstery / Credit Card Payments
« on: November 03, 2018, 06:22:39 PM »
I hate banks and credit card companies. I was going over our accounts and these damn transaction fees are a killer. I would love to do cash or check orders but it would bankrupt us because no one would do business with us. It is pretty crazy how we have went from a check/cash society to a debit / credit card company.

3 % fees are a killer. I have looked for ways to cut the fee's and have found some companies that are cheaper but they get you in other fee's. They advertise small transaction fees but then tack on other fees. We use Square exclusively and their services are top notch. Our parts company uses their inventory management system and it is integrated with our website store. Works slicker then snot on a door knob.

But those damn fees. :( Do all of you accept CC transactions and who do you use ?


The Business Of Upholstery / Respect For Equipment Operators
« on: September 03, 2018, 06:18:08 PM »
From marketing to backhoe operator. The things I get myself into.

I leased a backhoe for a week and cleared some of the 3 acres we have. I can tell you that after spending 7 days on a backhoe I have a ton of respect for these operators. Good Lord. My back and kidneys ached like the dickens at the end of each day after being beat, banged, bumped and bounced around in the seat all day.

THis property was long overdue for a good clearing and I ended up with about 60 yards of underbrush, pine needles and vines. I left all of the majestic pines and oak trees. Put down 40 yards of Reman 57 rock and created 2 new drives. I am hoping that this will cut down on the snake problem. We have been over run with coral snakes and a few weeks ago while under the coach greasing the U joints I had one visit me. It was 12 inches from my head and thankfully moved away when I moved ever so slightly.

I am sure most of you remember me getting bit by a pygmy rattler 2 years ago that ended up in the basement of our coach ( via some boxes that were on the ground during the day ). The coral snakes have a hard time injecting venom into you because of having short fangs but if they do, you are in for a battle. A guy in Bama just died from a coral snake bite a couple months ago. My oncologist said to avoid all snakes if possible as he felt he couldn't save me if I got bit. I struggled with the pygmy rattler bite for 2 weeks and thankfully it has cyto toxin versus neuro toxin. The coral snake delivers a high dose of neuro toxin. That created a bit of a snake phobia for me. :)

I have to admit I had a blast running that backhoe. Much cooler then a dang sewing machine. Talking about eye/hand coordination. Yowzer. It takes a full day or two to get used to it and operate it efficiently. They are also expensive as all get out - $ 1,600 for a week. I would have probably enjoyed flying a plane instead. :)


The Business Of Upholstery / Exit Strategy
« on: May 18, 2018, 06:13:57 AM »
Most of you know that I utilize consultants when it comes to making major business decisions. I typically come up with a plan, strategy or idea and before putting it into place run it by my son and 2 others who are friends and extremely successful business owners. I always want to see all Pro's and Con's before taking a leap into the unknown.

During a meeting with one of our friends/consultants he brought something up that neither my wife or I even considered - an exit strategy. When he asked what ours was we looked at each other dumb founded and admitted we had never considered it.

Do we plan on retiring and selling the companies ? Do we plan on holding on to both companies and go into semi retirement and bring in someone to run them for us ? Or do we plan on closing them down, selling off the equipment and inventory and retiring ? We thought we were going to turn the companies over to my daughter but she has changed her mind and is pursuing a new career.

We still have not figured it out yet. I was just wondering do any of you have a planned exit strategy ?


The Business Of Upholstery / New Website Technology.
« on: April 21, 2018, 10:22:36 PM »
I just finished 2 web sites and I must say, things are getting easier to produce nice websites.
I use Inmotion hosting and built the websites using wordpress and bold grid. Because our manufacturing company is selling a lot of parts now including he ones we manufacture, we had to get an online store started.

I dreaded trying to do that. What I found out was that it was fairly easy and it directly linked to our square account. It is pretty cool now as the orders come via e-mail, the shipping address is included and the parts already paid for. Before that we had to handle every sale over the phone and it was damn time consuming.

One of the reasons I went with inmotion is their tech support. I have really screwed somethings up with a wrong setting and took the website off line by accident. They immediately got it back up and running and made the correct setting changes. I think they take mercy on my old self.

If anyone is looking at building a new website or want to spruce theirs up I strongly suggest inmotion hosting as well as using wordpress & boldgrid. There is a boat load of how to youtube videos for both of these programs.

Here are the two sites I recently overhauled.




The Business Of Upholstery / Liability Insurance
« on: February 23, 2018, 07:05:58 AM »
I was just wondering if anyone carries business liability insurance. We have a policy that covers us for $ 2 million which includes people who visit our shop as well as covering us while doing shows.

All venues require we have a minimum of $ 1 million before we are allowed to set up at an event and have to provide them with a copy of our policy.

For those of you who have walk in customers or those of you who deliver, do you have liability insurance ? I believe our policy costs around $ 1,000 a year.


The Business Of Upholstery / Trends ??
« on: January 01, 2018, 10:42:52 AM »
All this planning for 2018 has got me thinking about trends. I spend a great deal of time researching trends in the RV market. This industry is our life blood and we have got to stay on top of everything. We do a great deal of technical support to customers so knowing all the new awning assemblies, parts, components, etc. is a must. The time commitment is astounding.

Right now there is a huge trend in motorcoach renovations. This includes new exterior paint, all new interiors such as cabinets, window valances, pilot / co-pilot seat recoverings and especially new flooring. I have several friends in this business and they are slammed. They have so much business they are turning a lot of it away. These jobs are mega dollar jobs with some running as high as $ 100 K per job. Why ? Mainly because the quality of coaches today is not as good as previous years. Also, many Boomers are finding it more cost effective to renovate their buses versus buying new especially considering they owe nothing on their current coach. Diesel coaches will go 500 K miles and the big prevost conversions are million mile coaches. Otherwise you will never wear one out in your lifetime. I stay clear of this type of business as it is capital intensive. The shop alone has to be massive to get a coach inside to work on.

Since I haven't a clue as to what the Marine, auto and furniture guys are up against I am curious to know if any of your sectors are showing trends ? Are there trends in your special line of work that you are capitalizing on ?


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